BEHIND HER BRAND: ALWAYS ALEDA
Have you ever stumbled upon a brand that aligns with your ethos so much you start to panic thinking someone has been reading your mind? That's what Always, Aleda is for me. Inspired by ancient civilizations and mythology, her design style makes her pieces feel as though they are the real deal - like artifacts freshly dug out of the dirt of some lost tomb. You feel like you're wearing a piece of history.
Aleda Powell is a one-woman show - designer, bench jeweler, photographer, and business owner. She gives you the impression she's been doing this her entire life - except it's only been about three years. She's always been obsessed with jewelry and grew up on a farm in Montana fiddling with anything she could find. She was a tinker - she took broken things and gave them new life. Fast forward many years, she was working as a professional photographer and was hired by a jewelry store to photograph some items. Intrigued by the process of hand-making jewelry, she spent all her spare time in the shop. They let her have a hand at carving waxes and, she eventually faced her "ah-ha" moment - this is what she wanted to do. Aleda asked the owner for an apprenticeship, but they simply didn't have the capacity. Instead, they loaded her up with all the advice and direction they could offer, and she signed up for an intensive bench jeweler's program at the New Approach School for Jewelers. There she started designing her line inspired by ancient adornments.
Every piece is made entirely by hand from 14 karat recycled gold. "Delicate" and "dainty" are not words I would use to describe Always, Aleda bespoke designs. Rather, they are sumptuous, hefty, generous, and sinfully heavy. Aleda achieves her signature "fresh from the ground" finish with a process she created herself. The technique leaves the gold looking softly worn instead of freshly shined. It is the lack of commercial refinement that gives Aleda's customers the magical feeling they are wearing a historical artifact.
Narrowing down my wishlist from Aleda's collection is a feat. Her signature scarabs were what caught my eye and drew me in but my first piece of hers was the Chunky Link Charm Chain. Each link is painstakingly soldered, one after another, until the chain is complete. I went with a 15" length so it could sit higher on my collarbones and work with any neckline. The weight of it is comforting and almost sensual. It's something I saved up for - for a long time, knowing I'd wear it forever. This brings me to another point - price point, that is. While those new to fine jewelry might balk at prices, as a jewelry professional, I can assure you - Aleda is pricing her designs competitively, to say the least. A similar chain from a famous jewelry house would cost three times more, at minimum. It would also have not been handmade for you by a delightful human in a rustic Virginia workshop located behind their house, which (as of this writing) is still without heat. (I highly recommend following Aleda on Instagram so you can catch her weekly stories of her at the bench creating new baubles all while bundled up to fight the bitter cold of her workshop.)
Aleda cannot sit still. When she is not making jewelry, she is knitting with wool she spun herself, playing with her two young boys, reading about Ancient Egypt, or working on her home - always while wearing enviable layers of gold, diamond, and gemstones with a large cup of coffee in hand. She's the type of person who will send her friends books she thinks they will enjoy and talks to you like you're her oldest companion. She's an old soul who puts her whole heart into every piece she makes. You can feel it when you open your Always, Aleda packages. I've long considered jewelry sentimental, but there is something different about pieces that have been handcrafted by people like Aleda. They have different energy - they're made with love.
Aleda is currently working on expanding the offerings of ready-to-ship items on her website and plans to have the selection stacked for spring. To see her entire collection and what is available right now, head here. What's next on my wishlist you may wonder? Well, damn near everything. But I think perhaps a coin pendant or a bracelet to match my chain. Or maybe one of her signature cabochon rings? It will be hard to choose - each piece more compelling than the last.
This post is sponsored by Always, Aleda. All thoughts and opinions are my own.